History of Alba


See Alba guide for highlights and historic monuments

The archaeological remains of the area where Alba is located date back to the Neolithic Age, with traces of the first human presence dating from between the 6th and 3rd millennium BC. The ancient settlement, which was quite extensive, was located on the left bank of the Cherasca River, just before the confluence with the Tanaro River.

It is referred to by some classical and epigraphic sources under the name of “Alba Pompeia”, in honor of the consul Cneius Pompeius Strabo (150-80 BC), who, in the year 89 BC, granted Roman citizenship to Cisalpine Gaul:

“[…] Alba Pompeia Colonia fuit a Pompeio deducta […]” [“Alba Pompeia was a colony founded by Pompeius"] [1].

Origins of the name Alba

With regard to the etymology, there are many hypothesis, but the most credible claims that the ancient name of the city is of Ligurian origin, meaning “Town” or "Chief Town":

“Ligures civitates suas Albion vocant” (trans: "The Ligurian call their cities Albion") [3].

Alba in Roman times

In Roman times, according to some scholars, the city was an important center in which Justice was administered [2]. However, discussions are still ongoing about the ancient Roman law of Alba, and there is no uniformity of opinion among scholars.

The only reliable statistics are based on the fact that Alba was under the control of the "Camilia" tribe, while we have no documents about the administrative situation of the city in the Republican Age.

The evidence does register the presence of the “duoviri” magistrates of the Roman colonies, next to the so-called “quattuorviri”: the presence of these magistrates indicates that in the Roman ancient Imperial Age the city probably had the title of “Municipium”. Stefano Cellano obtained this evidence from an ancient inscription that said: " Municipio suo Alba Pompeia" [4].

History of Alba after the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, Alba became a free Municipality in 1170, and it was immediately contested between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. After a series of wars, sieges and Dominions (including that of the Gonzaga dynasty), in 1628 it finally came under the dominion of the Dukes of Savoy.

Certain remains of the medieval age are still visible. In fact, the defense wall of Alba is a true monument of military art. The towers, walls and ramparts are based on foundations that joined them and are more than two meters thick, and they were surrounded by a deep moat. Most of the towers were demolished in the 19th century, but there is still  a great deal of remaining evidence of their existence and structure.

See the detailed Alba travel guide if visiting.

References

1. See V. De Conti, “Notizie storiche di Casale del Monferrato” ["Historical Perspectives of Casale Monferrato], Mantelli, 1838: 294

2. see N. Lambroglia, “Alba Pompeia e il museo storico-archeologico ‘federico eusebio’” ["Alba Pompeia and the Historical and Archaeological Museum ‘Federico Eusebio’”], Bordighera”, 1949

3. Strabo [58-25 BC]

4. See V. De Conti: 294